Congress Not Getting Message on Fiscal Responsibility

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Barack, Congress, Economy, Fiscal stimulus

The Obama Administration might be talking about fiscal responsibility, but such wisdom doesn’t look likely to arrive in Washington this year. On the heels of the massive stimulus package comes the next wave of spending.

On Wednesday, the House will consider a proposed $410 billion spending plan for the rest of fiscal 2009 — and there’s been no attempt to hold down spending:

That package would spend about 8 percent more than the same programs got last year, the second biggest annual increase since 1978 for discretionary spending, programs that the government isn’t required to fund, unlike Social Security and Medicare.

…

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D- Calif. , on Monday defended the coming spending spree, which includes an estimated 9,000 earmarks, or local projects, said to cost about $5 billion . She called the bill “the unfinished business of last year, when the president refused to address the priorities and needs of the American people.”

The stimulus bill was rushed through Congress. Look for this spending bill to go through even faster. The bill has to get passed by March 6th to keep government programs from running out of money. No wonder the Democrats feel unpressured to show some restraint. This thing could be sign, sealed and delivered before most Americans know any of its details.

Granted, Congress is obliged to pass enormous spending bills every year in order to keep the federal government running. But, with the stimulus bill already signed into law, does Congress really need to be increasing other types of spending? Let’s not forget, the more we spend now, the more we have to pay back in the future. In fact:

The CBO projects that the GDP in 2015 and beyond will be as much as 0.2 percent smaller than it would have been without the stimulus package, dragged down by financing all the debt that’s being piled up. In addition, noted the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan fiscal research group, the bill will “have a permanent impact on the deficit through higher interest payments on additional public debt.”

Clearly President Obama is right to be pushing for fiscal responsibility. But he’s going to have to do more than make speeches to get his own party to comply. If his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term is an earnest one, he should start by demanding Congress decrease the spending proposed in the upcoming bill.


This entry was posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009 and is filed under Barack, Congress, Economy, Fiscal stimulus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Congress Not Getting Message on Fiscal Responsibility”

  1. mike mcEachran Says:

    Aren’t we hearing two messages ? 1 – we need to spend. 2 – we need to cut the budget. No wonder congress is confused.

  2. Trescml Says:

    I think is OK to increase certain types of spending (for instance the additional funds for the SEC) but there needs to be more cuts in other areas to make up for the additional spending (and the additional spending in the Defense budget that passed late last year).

  3. kranky kritter Says:

    2008 and 2009 seem destined to unfold according to the following well-known rubric, and I don’t see what can stop it:

    Sin in haste, repent at leisure.

    The financial panic has opened the public purse as wide as it will ever be opened. “We must do something” has become almost entirely equivalent to “we must spend as much as it takes to get things going.” It’s a binge.

    By the time of the next budget cycle, our stupendous increase in deficit spending for 2008 and 2009 will have led to ramifications of some sort, quite possibly including a much greater reluctance of other nations to invest in our treasury notes as backed by a substantially devalued currency.

    Cutting the budget next year to far lower levels than we see now is quite unlikely to be optional. The only question is how hard and how quick the cuts will have to be. I hope that we can go back to a spending level at least as low as 105% of the 2008 budget not including the TARP addition. But I suspect that the enduring weakness of the economy will lead to the democrats talking themselves into another stimulus about half as big as this years.

    And then the 2010 elections will substantially reduce the democratic congressional majority and chasten the remaining democrats into getting budget balance religion heading into the 2012 election.

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    2008 and 2009 seem destined to unfold according to the following well-known rubric, and I don’t see what can stop it:

    Sin in haste, repent at leisure

    .

    The financial panic has opened the public purse as wide as it will ever be opened. “We must do something” has become almost entirely equivalent to “we must spend as much as it takes to get things going.” It’s a binge.

    By the time of the next budget cycle, our stupendous increase in deficit spending for 2008 and 2009 will have led to ramifications of some sort, quite possibly including a much greater reluctance of other nations to invest in our treasury notes as backed by a substantially devalued currency.

    Cutting the budget next year to far lower levels than we see now is quite unlikely to be optional. The only question is how hard and how quick the cuts will have to be. I hope that we can go back to a spending level at least as low as 105% of the 2008 budget not including the TARP addition. But I suspect that the enduring weakness of the economy will lead to the democrats talking themselves into another stimulus about half as big as this years.

    And then the 2010 elections will substantially reduce the democratic congressional majority and chasten the remaining democrats into getting budget balance religion heading into the 2012 election.

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